January 8, 2013

I have neurological bad luck that tossed me in a wheelchair fast.

I tell you this because I know the answer to that dumb question “why me?”

The answer is: “why NOT you?”

When my sister Kristin learned she needed an urgent liver transplant, when she was officially given the full-time job of not dying, there was a whole range of typical wailing reactions I blew past. Why not her? You cut to the action, to the next steps, to this plan and that plan and the other plan.

Eventually, the helplessness finds you and ties you down. But for as long as possible, I recommend acting as though what you do, every step, every decision, will make all the difference. It might.

Because of the wheelchair, doctors would not consider me as Kristin’s donor. Being relegated to the cheap seats was scarier than getting on an operating table and having them remove 60% of my liver. Seriously. I would have had doting medical attention and drugs. Sign me up. Fortunately, Heather was a match. If not, there would have been a knock-down-drag-out fight. I would have lost, the doctors are in charge, but it would have been a sight to behold.

LIVE ON Organ Donation was Heather’s idea and a good one. We were lucky that, as a group, we could handle the mishigas and the financial pressures. Trying to help others get the happy ending we got is sort of a cosmic “thank you.” The world could use more of those from lucky people.

If you’re in need of a transplant, if you’re thinking about being a live donor, if you’re one of our many supporters, all I can say is this: we are all agonizingly frail and mortal. You’re here, and then you’re not. Right now, this very moment…and this one…and this one…is all you’ve got for sure. That’s it. Do your best.

Doing our best is, I think, why, Kristin is here and thriving and happy.

Final thought: if you’re healthy and you haven’t registered with your state’s organ donor registry, if you don’t have the decision noted on your driver’s license, please do it. What are you planning to do with all your this-worldly leftovers when you’re six feet under? Do you know something I don’t?

I know we don’t like to think or talk about dying. But I believe it’s the trick to really enjoying living. And if enough people just did this, we wouldn’t need this live donor mishigas at all.

Thanks for reading.